whitebaiters association

About the West Coast Whitebaiters Association Incorporated


On the 14th of June 1994 a meeting of concerned fisher people was held at Hari Hari to express concern and dissatisfaction that the Department of Conservation was changing the rules for whitebaiting on the West Coast. Intended changes to timing of the fishing season were causing the greatest concern.

West Coast Whitebaiters Association Formed

This and subsequent meetings up and down the West Coast were the basis for the formation of this association. It is now a part of local history that this association, with able assistance from then Wellington lawyer Tony Ford (now Chief Judge in Tonga), was able to reverse the original government decision and return the West Coast whitebaiting season to its original dates.

Since then, this association has been in almost constant consultation with the Department of Conservation, and has discussed a myriad of issues affecting whitebaiters and whitebaiting.

Much of the work of this association has involved advocacy, working with government and local bodies, including the Department of Conservation, regional and district councils. It also provides an important forum to allow individuals to express their views and air personal opinions on how they see the future of the fishery, both from a fishing point of view, and with an eye to conservation for the future.

Objects of Association

  • To protect and enhance by all possible means the interests of whitebait fishers in the territorial areas covered by the Whitebait Fishing (West Coast) Regulations 1994 or any replacement regulations or statutory provisions.
  • To encourage, promote and safeguard in any manner which the Association thinks fit the conservation and propagation of all species of whitebait in the recognition that the resource must be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • To recognise and honour the Treaty of Waitangi.

Preparing your whitebait stand for the season

As another whitebait season rolls around, stand holders up and down the Coast will be preparing for the coming season. Before they start constructing stands, whitebaiters need to ensure they are fully conversant with the rules that apply. These rules are spelled out in the consent documents they receive from the Regional Council. We are informed that these rules will be enforced. The practice of hammering a couple of stakes into the riverbed to hook up a sock net will not suffice.

A whitebait stand or platform is a structure that can be walked on for the purpose of whitebait fishing. Its location and dimensions will be detailed in the consent information. Permission to vary these needs to be obtained from the Regional Council before making changes. Keeping sites tidy, and removal of stands, shelters, etc after the season, are also matters that will be policed.

If we all get conversant with the rules, and do our bit, it will help make this a pleasant and hopefully productive season.

~ Des McEnaney